In Canada, 67-year-old Linda Gibbons has served 10-years and seven months in prison for peacefully protesting in front of abortion facilities. The National Post reports that access to abortion in Canada is unrestricted and some provincial health plans pay for the procedure.
At abortion clinics, Gibbons always brings the same sign, which features a drawing of a baby and reads, “Why mom? When I have so much love to give.” Gibbons also holds a 10-week model of an unborn baby in her hand and paces quietly on public sidewalks.
However, Canada has a so-called “bubble zone” law that prohibits pro-life activists from peaceful protesting within 500 feet of abortion facilities. In fact, Gibbons was arrested earlier this week in front of the Morgentaler clinic, which is an abortion facility located in Northern Toronto that has an “extensive security system,” according to the clinics website.
Journalist Christie Blatchford said the following about Gibbons: “Those, like Gibbons, who still care about abortion, are profoundly unfashionable, regarded as cranks. Perhaps that’s why she’s also probably the country’s most ignored serious criminal. But for a handful of people — unusually, the National Post was there to watch and Gibbons had several supporters on the sidelines — her arrest proceeded quietly and without fuss.”
When the sheriff showed up Wednesday to read the paperwork aloud three times, the forbidden conduct included “impeding, interfering with, blocking and obstructing” clinic patients; “distracting” or “attempting to distract” or otherwise “interrupting” the business of the clinic; “supporting or condoning” actions that might interrupt the business.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to conclude Gibbons did any of that. She walked her solitary path in front of the entrance; she didn’t chant, sing, or pray; she didn’t stop anyone. The Garda guys were more of an impediment than this 67-year-old woman. “Do you understand the court order?” the sheriff asked after each reading. “Linda, do you understand?” Then, after the third time, “Linda, you’re in breach of a court order.” Gibbons didn’t reply but once, when she told the sheriff: “You arrest me while allowing the murder of babies? You have blood on your hands.”
She didn’t resist. She doesn’t sign her fingerprints. She doesn’t speak to her jailers. She won’t sign bail. She never speaks in court, where for most of the past two decades, she has been unrepresented (she has had a lawyer for the past few years). As she sees it, her silence honors the unborn. “The Supreme Court says the one you want to say you’re defending doesn’t exist … Nobody is there until the baby is born.”
In 2013, Gibbons was arrested for protesting abortion inside a no protest zone and given the maximum sentence for her “crime,” six months and 29 days. As LifeNews previously reported, in 2012, Gibbons was the recipient of the Mother Teresa Pro-Life Award at the National Pro-Life Conference banquet. Additionally, she received the Governor General of Canada’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from MP Maurice Vellacott in recognition of her “contribution to Canada”.
Monica Roddis, the president of LifeCanada, gave the award to Gibbons. At the ceremony, Gibbons said, “I have a moral responsibility not to obey an unjust law. I stand before you as one person who has chosen a certain walk.” She added, “Pro-life can be very difficult and challenging, demanding that we give that little bit more and go that extra mile because we want to show that our love is genuine.”
In the United States, the Supreme Court decided in an unanimous decision that buffer zones, which are similar to Canada’s bubble zones, were “inconsistent with the First Amendment” because they “restrict access to ‘public way[s] and ‘sidewalk[s],” places that have traditionally been open for speech activities.